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Butterflies of the Indian subcontinent
Common Grass Yellow
Eurema hecabe  LINNAEUS, 1758
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - COLIADINAE
Tribe -
Eurema hecabe Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The Grass Yellows are all fairly small butterflies, readily recognised by their bright yellow wings and their habit of gathering in small groups on patches of damp sand or soil. Despite their name, none of their caterpillars feed on grasses - the name is derived from the fact that most species are found in disturbed grassy habitats.
Grass Yellows are among the most familiar of tropical butterflies, with a total of 70 known species worldwide, of which 36 are found in the Neotropical region, 13 in North America ( including Mexico ), 10 in Africa, 25 in the Oriental region and 10 in Australia / Papua New Guinea. Many of the species are migratory in behaviour, with the ranges of several such as hecabe overlapping into in 2 or more of the zoogeographical regions.
Eurema hecabe is found across the entire African continent, throughout most of Asia south of the Himalayas, on most of the islands of the south Pacific, and across much of Australia.
Habitats
This species is found in secondary or disturbed habitats including forest clearings, along roadsides and riverbanks, and in parks and gardens at elevations between sea level and about 1500 metres.
Lifecycle
The eggs of Eurema species are always spindle-shaped, and pale yellow or straw coloured when first laid, changing to a darker shade before hatching. They are laid singly on the upperside of leaves of the foodplants.
The foodplants of hecabe vary according to the region and habitat. They include Caesalpinia and Cassia, ( Caesalpiniaceae ), Pithecellobium ( Mimosaceae ) and Wagatea ( Fabaceae ).
The caterpillar when first hatched is green, cylindrical, and covered in tiny tubercules from each of which arises a single long stiff hair. In later instars the hairs ( setae ) become progressively shorter. The fully grown larva is dull green with a thin dark dorsal stripe, and a broader cream lateral stripe below the spiracles. Each segment of the body is ribbed vertically, and covered in small tubercules, giving it a rough textured appearance.
The pale green chrysalis is slim, sharply pointed at head and tail, and with prominent wing cases.
Adult behaviour
Males congregate to imbibe mineralised moisture from damp sandbanks, often in scores. Females are more discreet in behaviour, normally being seen singly when nectaring. They will visit many different flowers including Lantana and various Asteraceae. Both sexes roost overnight and during overcast weather under the leaves of bushes or low herbage.
 

 

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